Saturday, April 28, 2012
The legacy of Dr. Martin D. Jenkins: Being Black & Gifted is Nothing New
In the early years of the 20th century, in the midst of the furor about the intellectual inferiority of the ‘negro’ race, a young graduate student named Martin D. Jenkins began a mission. A mission to disprove theories being perpetuated that ‘Negro’ children were not as intelligent as their Caucasian counterparts and that they could not reach the levels of performance on traditional I.Q. tests that would classify them as ‘gifted’. In the early 1930s, Jenkins’ first research study written with his mentor, Dr. Paul Witty in 1934, was titled The educational achievement of a group of gifted Negro children and published when he was just a graduate student.
In addition to his dissertation and other work co-published with his mentor, Paul Witty, Jenkins also published a separate study in 1943 of a little girl from Chicago with a measured IQ of 200 titled: The case of B: the negro girl with an IQ of 200. In examining the intelligence of Negro children, Jenkins used the same measures that white researchers had used to promote their theories of racial superiority (e.g., Weschler Intelligence Scale). Jenkins continued to pursue this interest, specifically looking for students through other contacts in Washington, D.C., Cincinnati, New York, and Chicago. His search resulted in case studies of 14 highly gifted Black students.
Today, African American and other culturally & linguistically diverse (CLD) students are sitting in classrooms where they are considered less intelligent than others and not capable of performing in higher level instructional settings, much less scoring the perceived ‘gifted range’ on traditional tests. We have so much evidence to the contrary, from Jenkins’ early work to the present day stories that we see in the news media, on the internet, and in some very exemplary programs serving diverse populations of gifted students (though few and far between) across the nation.
There really are no excuses for the continuing state of ‘under-representation’ of cld students in gifted programs, except that some continue to perpetuate the myth that these children are less intelligent and should not be provided access to gifted and advanced learner programs. Bias, discrimination, stereotypical behaviors of educators, limited advocacy on the part of families and communities should not be accepted and allowed to limit students’ chances for a better future. We cannot afford to lose the brilliance these students have. Like Martin D. Jenkins, we should be on a mission to ERADICATE UNDER-REPRESENTATION IN GIFTED PROGRAMS AND UNDERACHIEVEMENT OF CLD STUDENTS, in general. Won’t you join me?
To read more about Dr. Martin D. Jenkins, go to:http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/martin-d-jenkins-educator-and-more
America is listening and reading Bright, Talented & Black: I was very humbled earlier this week, when a professor of education from the University of Alabama shared the results of a recent class assignment. His students in their Special Populations in Gifted Education course were required to read my book: Bright, Talented & Black for a course reading this semester. Rather than ask that they write a report, he asked that they create a ‘Book Trailer’. Please take a look at the Trailer and give her some feedback. I’m sure that she and her professor would appreciate it!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OEjOzOy45Y&feature=youtu.be&noredirect=1